Today, the last of the family left. My brother, his wife and my mother said their good-byes and returned to their lives. Their support was great, but at some point we all have to go back to our lives. People have stopped just dropping by. This is a good thing. It’s time. We have to have some time to sit quietly and feel the “new normal”. Kayla spends most of the day in her room- that’s normal. She is a teenager. I get up and mow the lawn. Then, I take a 4.5 mile walk, the first power walk I have taken in the 11 days since she passed. “What will the neighbors think?” Will they think “Good, he’s being healthy.” or will they think “Wow, he’s not still mourning her?”
Ty and I continue to have our own impromptu counseling sessions, just the two of us. It’s still surreal. We still keep expecting her to come back. Every once in a while you glance up at the flowers or the cards and think “What are those doing here?” Then it hits you again. Talking with Ty helps me realize I’m not going crazy. “Good, you’re feeling this too.” The denial is fading, but still there. The mind cannot wrap itself around a thing so shocking, so horrifying. This just doesn’t happen.
I tried to feel Shayna’s presence on my walk. I always teased her about going with me and she never did, not once. I tease her “You have to go with me now. You have no choice.” I send thoughts her way. Various people tell me various things about the state of her soul now. Is she still near Earth? Is she concerned for us? I release her. “Shayna, I love you and I will always love you, but we’re going to be all right. We miss you and it hurts so much. But, you go do what you need to do sweetie and we will see you when we get there.” I hope she hears me. I don’t want to let her go, but I don’t want to cause her any pain.
Ty and I discuss this- Is Shayna still here concerned about us? Once again, maybe Shayna has given us the answer to this. The week they were in Orlando, Ty told Shayna she felt a bit guilty being on vacation without Kayla and me. They were living it up eating in fancy restaurants, going swimming, etc. Shayna said that she loved us (Kayla and me), but she didn’t really miss us. Shayna knew how to have a good time and us not being there wasn’t going to interfere with that.
A package arrives for Shayna. It’s her Sharps container. I had to give her bi-weekly injections for her rheumatoid arthritis. The used needles have to be disposed of as medical waste. We had just ordered this disposal system because her last one had just filled up. “Fuck!” I scream and slam it to the ground. It’s just another reminder of how quickly she was snatched away- just like every time I open the refrigerator and see her Enbrel syringes. Still half of the package of four left. I can’t bring myself to throw them away yet. The good thing is no more arthritis sweetie. No more shots, even though you took them like a trooper. We still have leftovers in the refrigerator from before she died. Gone so soon and gone so fast. It’s more than the mind can handle.
Kayla finally leaves her room, but it’s to go to a friend’s house. It’s the Fourth of July and everyone is celebrating. That is everyone but us. Ty goes out and runs errands while I mow the lawn and walk. We’re trying to decide what to do for dinner. I got a coupon from Champp’s for a free entree. It’s either going to be very crowded or deserted. I have no idea which. Who goes to a restaurant on the Fourth of July? Us. That’s who. We are those people now.
I shuffle out to the car. There is no joy. I think again of Shayna, wishing she were jumping in the car behind me- always insisting on sitting behind my seat even though it was pushed all the way back and she was 5’ 10" That was her seat and she wouldn’t sit behind Ty where there was more room. She was always digging her knees into the back of my seat. I think of what she would say if she knew we were going without her. “I can’t believe you are going out to dinner without me.” Well, I would take her if I could. I’d do anything to have her go with us.
The restaurant is almost empty. It’s the Fourth of July. Everyone is celebrating with family and friends. The waitress comes “Will anyone being joining you?’ Why did she ask that? "No.” I sad with great sadness. She swears when she looked at the table she saw three menus. No, there were only two.
We eat, we get our check. Wow. This is cheap. Just the two of us now. I look around- lots of “old” couples- we are now one of them. I feel like we’ve just aged. Our girls kept us young. Bills will be less. Our cost of living just went down. There will be no college for Shayna. No more paying for nationals. I feel guilt. I was always complaining about money. We had told Shayna this was her last volleyball nationals. Club volleyball is expensive. Shayna had other plans, already working Ty for nationals for next year. But, is this my fault? Did my complaining about money so much somehow wish Shayna out of my world? No, I didn’t want less bills, I wanted more money. You got it wrong. Bring her back. Crazy thoughts come at crazy times.
We settle in after coming back from dinner. Let’s watch some TV. Once again thoughts turn to Shayna. The reality is our tastes in TV had begun to diverge and she spent a great deal of time not in the room- sometimes she was physically there, but checked out on her iPhone. She’d pass by, see what we were watching and if it didn’t suit her, she’d go watch Netflix in her room. We also comment on the reality that it’s likely it would have only been the two of us at dinner anyway. Shayna had a full social calendar. She would have had something planned for last night. We realized that the days of the four of us just sitting and having a good time were growing more and more rare anyway. It certainly wasn’t every night even when Kayla was home from college. We so looked forward to the four of us being together this summer, but frankly it wasn’t what we had pictured in the few weeks we did have together and we had already observed that.
10:15 PM and I can’t keep my eyes open any longer. Normally I’m a night owl, but today has just drained me. We retire for the evening- Kayla is still out with friends and Shayna never coming home again. We hold each other and say again we don’t know how, but we will make it through this.
Sleep comes easily tonight. I did take an Ativan. No need to struggle with sleep right now. I need my rest.
The new normal..